Saturday, November 19, 2011

LORD: You Know I Love You

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Tend My lambs.' He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Shepherd My sheep.' He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Tend My sheep.'" (John 21:15-17, NASB).

All of the followers of Christ are faced with the same question. It is not: are you willing to do anything for God, or do you love others, The primary question that He wants of all His followers is this: Do you truly love me. A deep and heartfelt love for God is the only effective means and motivation for serving Him. As the Lord’s disciples, our primary calling is to be with Him. Out of that love relationship comes the motivation and power to to fulfill our God given purpose in life, no matter what we have to endure along the way.
The Bible often uses earthly examples as a form of explaining spiritual things. A flock of sheep with its shepherds used throughout both the Bible. The flock of sheep is a type, and a figure used, of God's people and the shepherds are figures, or types, of those whom God appoints to feed those sheep, in other words, to take care for the spiritual needs of God's people. Jesus instructed Peter and the other disciples to take over the feeding and shepherding of His sheep. The disciples were called upon to serve under Him on this earth, as shepherds too. Shepherds of His flock.

The discussion Jesus had with Peter just before He ascended up into Heaven, was the result of three and a half years of teaching by Jesus to His disciples, especially the twelve who had lived very close with Jesus during His time on earth. This teaching showed the disciples what to do, what The Lord wanted them to turn out to be after e ascended and went back into Heaven.  During Jesus’ life on this earth with His disciples Jesus taught this teaching to them over and over again in different scriptures and parables. [Matthew 14:13-21]: He wanted them, like us, to carry on what He wanted us to.
Matthew told of the time when the disciples, who were under the headship and guidance of Jesus, fed over five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus, saw a great multitude and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick." We can see in these scriptures the Great Shepherd  looked after and cared for the people’s needs. The lord’s  disciples were there with Him and he wanted them to be able to do the same.

The lesson here is like a text book, laid out in simple steps. First, the disciples saw a need of the people and Jesus told them to go ahead and do what was necessary to fulfill that need. But the disciples didn't know how to carry out what they considered to be a very impractical request of Jesus because they did not have the means to do it. They said to Jesus, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." Reading between the lines, we know pretty well what the disciples were thinking: this thing which Jesus has told us to do is impossible. These people are hungry and need to eat now. We can't feed this entire multitude with these hardly nothing. All we have is, five loaves of bread and two fish. Look what Jesus said next. He said, 'Bring them here to Me.'" After the disciples had gathered together all the resources which they could, and had determined it was not enough, the next step called for by Jesus was, "Bring them to Me!" Remember this was done in answer to the request of Jesus, "You give them something to eat." We always have to take the first step.

The Lord's view took in many things which the disciples could not see. The Lord spoke from the standpoint of the creator of all things The disciples were as yet limited by their thinking to the physical realm and scarcely aware that they also were part of the vast invisible spiritual realm. The Lord was teaching His disciples a step at a time who He was, who they were, and the complete spiritual meaning of "Feed My sheep."

Remember this, It was by the hands of the disciples that the food was given out. The Lord had commanded the disciples to "feed the people," it was the disciples who gave out the food. But it was at the hands of the Lord that the food was multiplied, It was the Lord who caused the miracle. But The Lord  did not give out the food, and in that sense, ( in other words to grasp the true meaning) He did not "feed the people." The disciples, with Jesus' help and guidance, fed the people. Make no mistake it could have not been done without Jesus! If they had not acted in response and obedience to His  command, Bring them here to Me, The disciples would have not been able to feed the people.  Because  it was, in fact, Jesus who fed the multitudes by His divine power! He was the only one who knew how to increase the bread and fish to make them enough for all the people. It was by His power it was done!

When Jesus left from this world. His disciples of that day were to remain on earth a little while longer to "feed His sheep," and they needed to be taught how to do it. And the future disciples of Jesus throughout the entire Christian Age needed to be taught through them. Christian disciples, even today, can never expect to "feed His sheep" without the help of Jesus to multiply their resources.  The lesson was taught. The people have a need. We  Christians, are to fill that need." We are to gather all the means we can. They might look like they are not enough. But when we take them to Jesus He will increase the means and give it back to us so that you can do what Jesus commanded us to do. Then, as His willing vessel, we need do it.

The Lord spoke to every Christian when He said:  
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the Age." (Matthew 28:19-20). Here in the great commission we have all the essentials  and basics of the mission that Jesus was teaching His disciples to carry out. The commission is addressed to the shepherd servants, the Christians of the Age. The Lord Himself, will be with the Christian always, even to the end of the Age. In this case the spiritual food, the gospel, is provided by the Lord, and it is more than sufficient to feed all the people of the earth. What is missing that prevents the multitudes of the earth from having access to the gospel message today?

Aren't there enough Christians willing to accept the challenge of the Lord's great commission? In New Testament days it took only a relatively few disciples to proclaim the gospel "in all creation under heaven." (Colossians 1:23). Could it be that the available resources are insufficient to reach the swelling multitudes, the billions of people in the far reaches of today's world? But even as the population of the spiritually hungry world has multiplied many times since the New Testament days, so have the means of travel and communication have also been also multiplied. The various types of today's mass media allow communication into homes in every nation of the world. In many respects today's world is effectively "smaller" than the world in Bible Days. The means of communicating are more available than ever before in the past history of this world.

So the question is this: Is the Lord's plan, which He taught to His twelve disciples, believed to be impracticable and not effective today? Is the Lord unable to multiply insufficient and inadequate means as He did when He walked this earth? Or could it be that Christians just haven't tried the Lord’s instructions and plan lately? Read the text book (our Bible) Get together all the means that you have. You might think that it isn't enough. But, just, take it to the Lord. Put it in His hands. And whatever He gives back to you, start giving it out to the hungry people and the Lord will do the rest!

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